Frequency of chimney cleanings often depend on how much fuel you burn. Wood and coal typically need to be cleaned far more often than other fuels, sometimes needing to be cleaned multiple times in a season to stay in a safe range. An annual inspection is advised, after the first visit this question is better answered.
The National Fire Protection Association states that chimneys, fireplaces, and vents should be inspected at least once a year to ensure they are sound, free from deposits, and have correct clearances. If the inspection reveals that cleaning, maintenance, or repairs are necessary, they should be taken care of sooner than later.
Even if your chimney is not used on a regular basis it should still be inspected. Your chimney may have inhabitants (small animals or birds) that have taken up residence in your chimney and are blocking airflow. There could also be deterioration that would make the chimney unsafe to use.
If you can see that your chimney has large build up or is smoking in places it shouldn’t, for example, your chimney is likely unsafe. The best way to know is to have an inspection done.
Smoke escaping from areas other than the opening at the top of the chimney is a sure sign that a chimney needs to be relined. If you can see your chimney from the inside of the building and notice that smoke is coming through, the chimney should be relined. Or if you have a chimney that's external to the building, you can look for escaping smoke on the outside. Other reasons for needing a relining can only be revealed with an inspection.
Stainless relining of a chimney typically takes up to a day unless there are complications.
Theremocrete relining typically takes a day for 1-2 flues and two days for 3 flues.
Unless you're an animal lover of all kinds and want to provide an entrance to your home or shelter for small animals and birds or bats, you should have a screened cap installed on your chimney.
A chimney cap will also help to protect the chimney from water erosion and avoid the possibility of excess rain or snow entering the chimney and causing water damage.
Cleanings begin at $133.25. The price decreases for each additional flue that needs cleaning at the same location.
Re-linings and other chimney services are difficult to estimate because there are many factors that affect the pricing. An in person inspection and quote is needed to properly estimate the cost.